Today we welcome guest blogger Richard Meyer, an intern with St. Anthony Messenger. Richard is a Theology major at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first time that I heard that Pope Benedict XVI was going to resign was a moment of confusion for me. As a Theology major, people assume that you are the first to know about all of these things and expect you to be able to comment on the entire future of the Church. Because I was so taken off guard, I didn’t really know how to react.
One of the questions that I wonder about as the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI sinks in is how will it affect the Church as a whole? More specifically (and probably more selfishly), how will it affect the youth of the Catholic Church such as myself? The future of the Church lies in the hands of the papal conclave.
Despite the shortness of his term (especially when compared to the amazingly long reign of Blessed John Paul II), Pope Benedict had a lot of missions that he covered well. One of my favorite things about his papacy was his Twitter account. I loved it because his tweets would pop up on my timeline every once in a while. But I also enjoyed it for a deeper reason. This was his honest attempt to join the world in a way that other popes could not. He understood the crucial role of social media in the lives of young people. Joining the Twitter world made me believe that the Church understood that young Catholics are our future.
When Pope Benedict took over the papacy, I was actually a little afraid. He was one of the oldest popes to ever be elected. How was he ever going to relate to me as a young boy?
Now, reflecting on the fear I had, I think he did relate to me successfully. The Catholic Church is at an uneasy spot. The average age of practicing Catholics keeps increasing and the number of youth in the pews tends to be decreasing. Pope Benedict saw this and, as my understanding goes, he responded in a way that he could most effectively reach the highest number of young people who would be willing to listen.
I don’t watch the news or pick up a newspaper nearly as often as I should, but I do spend time on my Twitter account trying to keep up with the daily lives of my friends. Pope Benedict’s tweets illustrated that he understood that we as the youth of the Church will one day be in control and that we need to be mentored on how to do so.
Therefore, as it stands, when someone asks me what I liked best about Pope Benedict XVI, I tell them that it was his ability to understand the world and it was this comprehension that made the pope seem closer to us.
I am anxious to see not only who the next pope will be, but how or if they will continue the mission of Pope Benedict: How will they relate to young people?
Image: Martin Ezequiel Gardeazabal/Shutterstock.com